Sunday, 26 June 2011

Banh mi at home

Hooray for getting internet back at home. To celebrate, I made banh mi. It's not go to the extent in London where you can barely turn a corner without finding a banh mi but they're popping up everywhere. Having gorged on them in Boston last month (hardly the home of banh mi, but nonetheless...) I thought I'd try to make them.


- Daikon, carrot and cucumber strips soaked in rice vinegar and sugar for the afternoon
- Mayonnaise and pate to smear on either side of a split baguette
- Pork from the barbecue that has been marinaded in lime juice, fish sauce and sugar
- Coriander to liberally toss into the baguette

It worked! It tasted like I remembered.

Homemade banh mi

Small victories. The other guys who were in also enjoyed them - although they're probably just being polite. Now to source a Vietnamese bakery for a proper baguette with that crunch you don't get in a normal shop bought effort...

3 months of eating North London: Pt 2: Big Apple Hot Dogs, Red Lion and Sun, Highgate

Hot dogs fall under the gamut of sausages that are a serious weakness of mine. Was delighted to discover that the Red Lion and Sun pub up Highgate hosted the much-talked-about Big Apple Hot Dogs.

It's only a hot dog - it can't be that wonderful, can it? Grab-and-go food extraordinaire. Anyhow, up reaching the pub, a cheery man caught our eye, winked and waved an enormous sausage at us. Insert fnar fnar here; I'm not going to get drawn into Nigel Slater innuendo here.

Anyhow, pints bought from the pub, there were the standard hot dogs available and also a special Big Pole. An enormous 12-inch whopper. Fnar fnar #2. Anyhow - I opted for a standard hot dog, having already eaten earlier.

All I can say is that for what is essentially the quickest of fast food - served up in about 10 seconds for £3.50 - this is nothing short of sensational, I'll stick a photo in but I doubt I'll do it justice:

Hot dog heaven

Well seasoned, dense, moist meat (fnar away at your pleasure) with the correct snap of the casing as you bite into it. Abiye who runs the cart is a gent and his enthusiasm is infectious; you really want his venture to succeed, and from the sounds of his pleas on twitter - he's overloaded with work and therefore this is going places.

Apparently the guy who makes the sausages is a maverick and makes only for Abiye and his cart and prefers to be called a meat technologist than a butcher. You can call him what you want - he's just given me a "fast food" epiphany. 9!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

3 months of eating North London: Pt 1: Yum Cha, Camden

I have moved from Blackheath to Hampstead for 3 months. Long story, but it means I get a chance to eat stuff somewhere else I probably wouldn't be arsed to eat up.

Wandered through Camden on my first Saturday up there and was told of a good dim sum place in between Chalk Falk and Camden. Wandered in just as they were opened and tried my usual staples: prawn dumplings and char siu (pork) cheung fun - both as you'd find in most places. Maybe they're hard to get wrong. Went randomly off-piste to try broccoli with garlic sauce which was certainly heavy on the garlic; I'm not complaining - and the broccoli still had a bite. Broccoli is ruined when well-done.

Winner for me was the "crystal" prawn and scallop dumpling - slightly tacky skin revealing both the prawn and scallop flavours - was expecting the scallop to get beaten up by the prawn but no, it was there...

Prawn and scallop dumpling

Should have got a 2nd serving but was bulging at the seams by now. Service was perfunctory and unsmiling. Should I expect any more? Will be back - half price dim sum on Monday-Wednesday isn't something I'll turn my nose up at. 7.